Poet Sally Keith read from her new book Tuesday in the third Plutzik Series reading of the semester. Her reading took place in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library. About 35 community members attended the event.

UR’s Joseph H. Gilman Professor of English James Longenbach introduced Keith.

“When [UR] wanted to hire a poet, we discovered the poetry of Sally Keith,” Longenbach said. “Her credentials were dazzling.” Keith was appointed as a Professor of English here this semester.

“From the moment we read her work, we wanted to hire nobody else,” Longenbach said. “It was her poetry and not merely those credentials that made us so eager.”

Keith’s first book, “Design,” won the 2000 Colorado Prize. Her second manuscript, “Dwelling Song,” was selected for the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series and will be available spring of 2004. She has also published poems in several publications, including “American Letters and Commentary,” “Denver Quarterly,” “Colorado Review,” “Conjunctions” and “Volt.” Copies of “Design” were for sale at the reading.

“These poems are sensuous, embodied, in the world, but they make the sheer existential fact of being in the world seem as complicated, as beautiful, as scary as it truly is in life, but rarely is on the page,” Longenbach said. “By the end of this evening we will be, I assure you, famished and hungry for more.”

Keith then read nine poems – three from “Design” and six from “Dwelling Song.”

Eileen G’Sell, a second-year doctoral student studying English, has read “Design.” “Her work has a meditative quality that wasn’t as clear on the page. Her reading it brought that out,” G’Sell said.

Keith was born in Fairfax, Va. and studied engineering as an undergraduate before changing gears to pursue poetry. She received her master’s degree from the University of Iowa. Last year, she taught at Gettysburg College and left as the Emerging Writer Lecturer for 2002-2003.

“She has a magnificent reading voice. I’ve never actually heard her read the poems in public and it complements them beautifully,” Longenbach said. “I love the fact that she doesn’t explain them at all, she just gives you the language of the poetry and makes you live in that in all of its riskiness, rather than giving you the cushion of an explanation to stand on and that makes the experience of the reading more dramatic.”

Sophomore Vanessa May-Corsini enjoyed the talk.

“I loved hearing her read – her poetry is artful and thought-provoking,” she said. “I’d really like to take one of her courses.”

Currently, Keith is teaching two undergraduate courses – Introduction to Creative Writing and Poetry Writing Seminar.

Next semester, Keith will teach an Advanced Poetry Writing Seminar and a course on the History of the Elegy.

The next Plutzik Series reading will take place in the Welles-Brown room at 8 p.m. on Dec. 3 and will feature author Lydia Davis.

Yunis can be reached at tyunis@campustimes.org.



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